Thirty-one cars make up the entry list for the 2020 Petit Le Mans, it’s a decrease of three cars from last year’s race but this year brings slightly larger LMP2 and GTD classes. As is normal for the four rounds of the Michelin Endurance Cup, all of the teams have brought on third drivers to spread the workload for the ten-hour race this weekend from Road Atlanta.
In DPi, most of the lineups are identical to the Rolex 24, except for the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. and the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. Those two teams ran the Rolex 24 with four drivers and have each stuck with just the normal third driver. Scott Dixon will join Ryan Briscoe and Rengar Van Der Zande in the #10 Cadillac. Recent Le Mans LMP2 winner, Filipe Albuquerque will join Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr in the #31 Cadillac.
The #10 Cadillac leads the DPi driver’s and team’s championship by three over the #31 Cadillac. The #7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 is a further two points behind in third.
The Acura-stable brings their normal endurance drivers of Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi. Pagenuad will be in the #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05c and Rossi will drive the #7 Acura/
At Mazda, it’s business as usual with no surprises. Ryan Hunter-Reay joins Jonathon Bomarito and Harry Tincknell in the #55 Mazda RT-24P. Oliver Pla, meanwhile, joins Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez in the #77 Mazda RT-24P.
The #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R. is the only lineup significantly different from the Rolex 24. Matheus Leist and Gabriel Aubry will be joined by Chris Miller this weekend.
In GTLM, all six cars have gone for the same lineups they ran at the Rolex 24 earlier in the season. BMW, however, has dropped their fourth driver and will run with the standard three.
Augusto Farfus and Colton Herta have been called on by BMW to join their normal full-season drivers. Farfus will drive the #24 BMW M8 and Herta will drive the #25 BMW M8. The lineup in the #24 BMW of Farfus, Jesse Krohn and John Edwards is the same lineup that won the Rolex 24 with Chaz Mostert.
There are no changes for Porsche who again tap two rising-stars in their factory programme, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet. Campell will be in the #911 Porsche 911 RSR with Jaminet in the ‘BamThor’ #912 Porsche 911 RSR.
Corvette also made no changes to their endurance lineup. Marcel Fassler joins Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the #4 Corvette C8.R and Nicky Catsburg gets the nod in the #3 Corvette C8.R. Catsburg will be hoping to help Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor lock up the GTLM championship this weekend.
In GTD, the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R returns to IMSA competition after being forced to miss time due to COVID-19. The team is based in Canada and were unable to manage their operations while also meeting the government-mandated quarantine time upon returning home to Canada. Zacharie Robichon, Lars Kern, and Dennis Olsen will be at the reigns for Pfaff.
The #63 Scuderia Corsa WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 returns after missing the last two rounds. Cooper MacNeil opted to prioritize his Ferrari Challenge campaign. MacNeil and Jeff Westphal will be joined by Alessandro Balzan.
“It is great to be back racing with Cooper and Jeff and the WeatherTech Racing team,” Balzan said. “Jumping into the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 Evo will be very familiar as I last raced with the team at the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona in January. I have been with the team at some of the races helping as a spotter. I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the red, white, and blue Ferrari this week at Road Atlanta,” Balzan added.
AIM Vasser Sullivan calls on Michael de Quesada and IMSA-debutant Kyle Kirkwood to support their effort at Road Atlanta. De Quesada drove with the team last weekend in their #12 Lexus RC-F GT3, but this time out he moves to the #14 Lexus RC-F GT3, presumably to add more experience to the lineup as they fight for the championship.
That championship will likely come down to the wire after the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R emerged into contention following last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jan Heylen will try to help Ryan Hardwick and Patrick Long keep the momentum up this weekend.
The championship-leading #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 has added Shinya Michmi to their lineup. The performances of Heylen, Michmi, and de Quesada could be a deciding factor in the GTD championship.
Elsewhere in GTD, Ben Keating joins the #72 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Dillion Macavern joins the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 that won last time out at the ROVAL.
LMP2 seems some welcome additions with Inter Europol making their debut in North America in a PR1/Mathiasen-supported ORECA 07. They’ll have Jakub Smiechowski, Rob Hodes, and Austin McCusker.
Job van Uitert joins Mikel Jensen and John Farano in the #8 Tower Motorsports ORECA. The #38 Performance Tech ORECA 07 brings Colin Braun, Matt Bell, and Jim McGuire.
The championship-leading #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07 has Patrick Kelly, Simon Trummer, and Scott Huffaker.
In Free Practice 1, the #7 Acura (pictured top) led the field with Ricky Taylor edging out Oliver Jarvis in the #77 Mazda. The #55 Mazda was third with the #31 Whelen Engineering entry the best-placed Cadillac in fourth.
Mikkel Jensen in the #8 Tower Motorsports ORECA 07 topped the charts in LMP2. Three out of the four cars in the field were within half a second of the Jensen, though. The #51 Inter Europol ORECA 07 was well off the field and getting up to speed, their best time from Kuba Smiechowski was over three seconds behind Jensen’s time.
Porsche ended FP1 with a 1-2. They will be looking to rebound from their disastrous outing at the Charlotte ROVAL last weekend. Laurens Vanthoor in the #912 Porsche was ahead of Nick Tandy in #911 Porsche. Conor De Phillippi was third in the #25 BMW. The championship-leading #3 Corvette ended the session in fourth with Antonio Garcia setting the quickest lap in that car.
In GTD, Lamborghini held onto a 1-2 with the #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Bryan Sellers out front.
Andy Lally in the #44 GRT Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 was 0.173 seconds behind Sellers.
Heart of Racing, after cracking the podium last weekend, have carried their momentum to Road Atlanta where they finished FP1 third with Aston Martin-ace Darren Turner leading the way for the #23 Aston Martin Vantage.
Qualifying for Petit Le Mans is scheduled for Friday while the race is scheduled for Saturday.